Saturday, March 31, 2007

An Answer, a Bus, and a Play

It wasn't difficult to find information which answered my question about the second commandment. The early Church leader Augustine felt that Exodus 20:4-5 (Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image........thou shalt not bow down thyself to them....) was a commentary on the preceeding verse (Thou shalt have no other gods before Me), so that's why the Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans omit Exodus 20:4-5 as a separate commandment. Martin Luther would have learned the commandments that way, and that's how he lists them in his catechism. Some authors point out that God didn't actually ever announce ahead of time that there were going to be TEN commandments-----that is simply the way His words in Exodus 20 were organized by men. "Versification is a human invention" is a related quote I ran across in my search.

We've had a couple days of clouds and intermittent rain. We need the rain to settle down the frost boils in the roads and driveways, which are such a sloppy mess right now. Husband was able to get quite a bit of manure hauled before the rain started----he was happy about that.

During my afternoon walk on Thursday, I managed to almost get run over by a school bus. I was on our gravel road, walking into a strong wind, which prevented me from hearing what was coming from behind. I wasn't paying attention to that fact at all, as my thoughts were very far away. For some random reason I started to cross the road......I happened to look back and right there was a school bus coming at me. I ran out of the way and the alert driver slowed way down. Her window was open and I hollered out an apology for my carelessness. She smiled and waved, and wide-eyed students in the windows waved, also. I felt like an idiot.

My two high-school-aged children are involved in the school play performing this week. They have been faithfully rehearsing for several weeks. It is a very serious production about the Holocaust. Usually they do comedies, so this was a major shift. Last evening's performance was very well done. The director is meticulous about details, and he is able to coax excellent performances out of our local teenagers. The show was a good history lesson for the cast and the audience; I was glad to see that many high-schoolers were in attendance. And, by the way, they all behaved very respectfully through the whole show----you could have heard a pin drop whenever there was a pause.

When I was growing up, I read and heard much about World War II and the Holocaust. My mom still mentions how, as a girl, she remembers the many cartoon pictures of Hitler and Mussolini that would be in the newspaper. She always says, "I wish I would have saved some of them." And she remembers all the sirens blowing the day the war ended-----she was walking home from school and was frightened by all the noise. We would watch movies like "The Hiding Place", about Corrie ten Boom, whose family hid Jews in Holland and were eventually caught and sent to concentration camps. Also, on TV, I remember watching several mini-series, "The Winds of War", "War and Remembrance", and one about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. My family would sit just glued to the TV during those shows. When I was younger, I remember seeing some of the Nuremburg trials on TV-----I don't know if it was a movie or actual news reports. In high school, I read novels like QB7 and Mila 18 by Leon Uris, and later the War and Remembrance series by Herman Wouk. I wonder if many young people nowadays read stuff like that, or even do much reading, period. Of course, we didn't have computers, video games, or movies on tape and DVD back then, so reading was popular. I still believe you benefit so much more from reading a book than watching a movie.

Speaking of books, I need to get back to organizing my bookshelf, which kept me busy yesterday. That's a peaceful, enjoyable way to make use of a rainy day.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Second Commandment??

Last Sunday in church was the "examination" of the students that will be confirmed next Sunday. The pastor led the students to recite most of Luther's Small Catechism up in front of the congregation. I followed along in the Catechism printed in the hymnal. Having not grown up Lutheran, I, of course, never learned the Catechism. When I joined this church I had to complete a workbook called "That I May Know Him", but it was not the Catechism, and I was questioned by the deacons over what I knew and believed.

Anyway, when the students recited the Ten Commandments as written in the Catechism, I once again had a question about something and I need to do some research on it. When I learned the Commandments as a child, the second one was "Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image." Luther's Catechism seems to skip that commandment altogether, and splits the tenth commandment.....coveting.....into two commandments. Was that a liberty Luther himself took, or had he learned it that way when he grew up in the Catholic Church? Either way, what is the reason for doing that? Was it so people wouldn't question the statuary used in churches? Like I said, I need to do some checking on that to satisfy my own curiosity.

This week started out unseasonably warm, but is now back to regular early spring chilliness. The kids dug out their shorts to wear to school and I took the flannel sheets off the beds. Now I wish they were back on.

My brother did respond to my email. There's no way he will ever see anything lacking in homeschooling, even the socialization aspect. Whatever, they're his kids.....he can do what he feels is best. He's worried that the gays are going to force their agendas in the public schools in order to recruit new members. Ok, whatever.....I don't know if things are quite that bad.

Well, I need to run to a school event. Dirty dishes and dust will have to wait.

Did you know: "5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions...." !

Monday, March 26, 2007

Trying To Keep Up

Another Monday......I started the day with good intentions to get many things done. After morning calf and barn chores, my progress stalled as I sat down to prepare three confirmation cards and a sympathy card for sending. Tears came as I signed the sympathy card to be sent to a local couple whose 15-year-old granddaughter had succombed after a long, courageous battle with cancer. Her photo was in yesterday's newspaper-----a beautiful girl with a happy smile on her face. Seeing her reminded me of my own children and how heart-rending it would be to lose one.

My next task was vacuuming ladybugs. Several east windows in our house are crawling with scores of the annoying little creatures. Yesterday's very warm weather seems to have coaxed them out of all the crannies they dwell in around the windows. They are actually some sort of asian soybean beetle which has taken up residence in Iowa the last few years. Probably they were imported somehow in foreign grain. Its a good thing they are basically benign-----they don't bite or sting, they just are numerous and they do produce a yucky smell if you squash them. So I avoid doing that. Once, I accidently chewed one along with some popcorn-----they taste just as bad as they smell!

Before I knew it, it was lunchtime. Husband and I dined out on our screened porch for the first time this season. Blackbirds in the pine trees were squawking and squeaking and whistling-----I always wonder what they are saying to each other. After lunch, Husband wanted a haircut, so I trimmed his hair out on the lawn. I, of the fine, mousy hair persuasion, have always been jealous of his thick, wavy tresses. Its easy to give him a haircut, you can cut anywhere, any way, and it seems to look OK. We had quite a laugh over his crop of ear hair! What can its purpose possibly be?

Back in the house, there awaited a huge pile of Daughter's clean laundry to be folded. Yesterday I kept urging her to please "keep up with your laundry and dryer loads", but she left a couple loads undried anyway. So I'm being nice and folding them for her, to get them out of my way.

On the email front, my brother has been sending me forwards concerning some gay rights law being debated at the statehouse. He gets so worried about that sort of thing-----that the world is going to pot, and feels we Christians should get fired up in opposition and write to our legislators. He and his wife do homeschooling because they think their kids would get corrupted in the public school system. I have argued with him about that----I think his kids would be just fine in public school. In fact, I think his oldest son is becoming too much of a kingpin, and would benefit from the classroom social setting, where he would have to learn to be patient, and take his turn, and be respectful of others. But, what do I know. I sent my brother a long email, however, presenting my opinions on the gay rights thing. I told him that I doubt the world is actually much worse than it has ever been. We're over-informed about all the bad stuff and everyone is so open and in-your-face about everything these days,too. Homosexuality, abortion, etc., have been around forever, and always will be, as long as there are humans. I told him basically to chill out on that stuff at this point in his life, and just focus on loving and providing for his family and teaching them the Christian way of life. We'll see how he responds!

So goes another Monday. I have no idea how women that have off-the-farm jobs can possible keep up with things at home. I'm home all the time and I can't keep up! I dread the lawn starting to grow, because that means countless hours spent mowing lawn. Already, weeds are poking up wherever they possibly can. One bright spot, though, is our patch of purple crocuses blooming near the barn door. They are lovely! I should join the modern age and acquire a digital camera so I could include photos on my blog.

Best wishes to everyone trying to "keep up"!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Birds, a Book, and Old Friends

We've been blessed with another windy March day. Unlike yesterday's westerly winds, today's are from the south, giving me an opportunity to burn the brush pile north of the house. All morning I picked up piles of leaves and sticks and carted them to the struggling fire which I had to restart several times with newspaper. But it was a lovely morning to be out, once I got moving fast enough to keep warm. Birds in the treetops kept me company with their chatter and songs. Robins, blackbirds, sparrows, juncos, and once in a while a crow, made themselves known. Later, on my walk to the mailbox, I saw a pair of unfamiliar birds----they looked similar to the killdeer which are numerous in our fields, but were a bit smaller----so I looked for them in the bird book when I got back to the house. Possibly they were "semipalmated plovers", making an early spring stop here on the way to their breeding grounds in Alaska and northern Canada. They have a long way to go yet. Wouldn't it be fun to join them!

This afternoon the wind has really picked up and I am glad to be in the house. The weather forecast is rain for tonight and tomorrow, possibly quite a bit of it.

During my time outdoors this morning, I was thinking about my blog post of yesterday. I had mentioned the importance of walking for a certain length of time to get the best mood benefits. I then remembered about a book I had read several years ago during the time when I started the regular walking habit. The intriguing title of it had jumped off the shelf at me at Barnes & Noble.....The Art of Laziness!! I no longer have the book, as I gave it to a pastor who had told me that his wife was tired and achy alot of the time. I don't remember the authors' names, but they were German physicians, a father and daughter. In the book, they were focusing on the importance of getting enough rest, because each of us has been given a finite amount of energy to use during our lifetimes. They weren't actually advocating laziness, of course, just slowing down, resting more, and reducing stress on our systems, in order to use our energy wisely. They recommended a daily 30 minute brisk walk, if possible, and they felt that the perfect time to get up in the morning is 7:20 a.m. For some reason, I remember that specifically. I would recommend the book to anyone, because I felt it contained helpful, practical, common sense advice.

This evening I'm meeting a couple old girlfriends for supper and chatting. We've known each other since kindergarten. There's something special about friendships that endure that long, and I feel fortunate to be in the vicinity of a few such friends. Husbands and children are wonderful, but old girlfriends are a treasure, too.

Keep in touch with an old friend today!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday Musings

Today is a sunny Monday, but with a nippy west wind. Quite "burr-fee", as an old high-school friend of mine used to say.

During milking this morning I dutifully listened to Husband grump and growl about two cows, Delilah and Kirsten, who were causing him trouble. Both had "freshened" (given birth) on Saturday, and were still weak and having trouble standing. Husband blames this on their rather frail body structure. He feels that the breeding companies nowadays are too focused on increased milk production, with not enough emphasis on sturdiness and hardiness. He had to use the skid loader and a hip lift apparatus to raise Kirsten to her feet so she could be milked.

I started a load of laundry and made a trip to our local small town for banking and bill-paying. When I got home I wanted to pick up the piles of leaves and sticks my sons had raked together over the weekend, but the wind was blowing too hard. After lunch, my father-in-law stopped by and I listened to him blather on about news he had heard during his usual morning card game "uptown". It's usually depressing news about illnesses and deaths in the community, with sometimes an impending divorce thrown in. Years ago I learned I must let everything he says go right on by me, and it's not so hard to do that now that he stops by rather infrequently. When our kids were small, however, he would be here to do farmwork nearly every day, and for lunch, too, and he would sit there and drone on and on about all that depressing stuff, and I would almost go insane.

This afternoon I bundled up and took a long walk in the wind. Several years ago when I decided to start walking on a regular basis, I read an article that stated that the length of time you walk is more important than how far you walk. It said that it takes about 45 minutes of walking before the "feel good" endorphins are released in your brain, and I can attest that that is probably true. I've reached the point where I can pretty much tell when my mood lifts during a walk, and it is at about that 45-minute point. The main reason I walk is to maintain a better mental state and have more energy, with the muscle-toning benefits being an added bonus. Plus, I sleep better, and have less stiffness and aches when I maintain a regular regimen of walking. My father-in-law used to make snide remarks about people walking, but after he was diagnosed with diabetes, he, too, had to start walking to help control his blood sugar.

Blessings to everyone on this day. Take a walk!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lucinda, the Psychic Bovine??

Yesterday morning, after milking chores were finished, I helped Husband load two cull cows onto the trailer to be taken to the sale barn, where they are bought by a packing plant to be slaughtered. Unfortunately, this is the inevitable fate awaiting every milk be "culled" from the herd. Eventually, each cow reaches the point of not being productive enough to keep around, usually because of udder health problems or old age. (Ironically, Husband told me that Sunday's sermon was about Jesus' parable of the farmer who had an unproductive fig tree that he wanted to get rid of......production is and always has been an issue with farmers, I guess.)

The two cows that we loaded were named Burniece and Lucinda. Lucinda had had a lame leg for awhile, probably due to a fall. That can easily happen, as the big clumsy cows jostle and push to gain position at the feed bunks. I assisted in the loading by standing in a certain spot in the barn and directing the cows to turn toward the trailer, parked outside the door. Burniece went on first, followed by Lucinda, who immediately plopped down on the trailer floor and refused to get up. Husband groaned, wondering if she would get up at the sale barn. They won't take a cow who doesn't stand up.

While he was gone, I scraped manure in the barn. That may sound like an unpleasant task, but actually, I find it enjoyable. I push a scraper along the floor to clear the barn alleyway of piles of poop the cows drop as they make their way out to the cowyard. Many people may not realize how much manure a cow produces all day long. Cows eat constantly, and they poop almost constantly, too, it seems. Its all part of the milk-making process......the more they eat, the more milk (and manure) they produce. When the cows stand in their stanchions in the barn, their poop falls into a gutter behind them. The bottom of the gutter is lined with chain-driven paddles which convey the manure to a pit outdoors. Of course, not all of the manure falls neatly from the cow into the gutter.....sometimes the cows cough and poop at the same time, projecting manure onto anything or anyone who might be in the way. Yes, I have had the pleasure of being splattered with warm, fresh cow manure.

Because Husband was gone this morning for awhile, I could scrape in solitude. I've come to appreciate solitude, no matter what the circumstance. During solitude I feel like my mind can take a deep breath and become refreshed and rejuvenated.......even if I'm scraping manure. I've found that when I do a repetitive task which requires the use of my hands, but not really my thoughts, then my mind is in a unique state, free to sail to new vistas of discovery and creativity. It can also be a good time to pray. Pushing a scraper, washing dishes, sweeping with a broom, vacuuming, raking, etc......that type of activity is what I'm referring to---repetitive action of the hands.

When Husband returned from his trip to the sale barn, I noticed he left the trailer parked with its back door open. Oh, dear......I could figure out what that meant.
Lucinda was still in the trailer, contentedly chewing her cud. She had refused to get up at the sale barn, even when they used the cattle prod on her. Husband was very displeased. When he came in for lunch I offered him this theory: Lucinda must have had a premonition of the dire fate that awaited her if she got up and walked off the trailer, and she just wouldn't stand for it! I said to him, "Dear, don't be dismayed, instead be in awe of Lucinda's psychic ability!" (I was trying to promote laughter in place of grumbling.) A few minutes later, there was a knock on the was our feed man who had just driven up in his pickup. He said, "Do you guys know you have a cow out wandering around?" Yup.....Lucinda had gotten up on her own and walked out of the trailer! Husband rolled his eyes and shook his head.......and laughed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wedding Dress & Sunday TV

It's a sunny Monday in March. The ice and snow which blanketed our area has been steadily melting the past few days. That's wonderful, because it means spring is coming, but it also means slop, slop, slop, everywhere. The lawn is completely covered with sticks and branches which fell during the ice storm, and were frozen to the ground. Now I'll need to wait until the lawn is dry enough to rake the sticks up. I don't remember ever needing to rake especially for sticks before! Needless to say, we'll possess a messy-looking lawn for a while yet. It's nice to live way out here in the country, where few people will see it.

My high school senior daughter and I spent all day Saturday wedding dress shopping with my older daughter who lives in Des Moines and is getting married in late summer. She met us in Ames, where we had a quick breakfast with my son. Then on we went to Storybook Bridal Shop (on Story St.) in Boone. My daughter tried on several dresses there. The predominant style these days is strapless, with embellishments being popular, like beading, rhinestones, and embroidery. She looked lovely in every dress!

Our next stop was a bridal shop in downtown Perry. Several more dresses were tried. They had an especially nice, spacious, mirrored viewing area there. My daughter, once again, looked beautiful in all the dresses she tried; I couldn't figure out how she would ever be able to choose one. By the time we finished up at this shop, we were ready for a break. Right across the street was The Elk Coffeehouse and Bistro, so we headed there. Its narrow storefront was deceiving, for inside it was a nicely restored, high-ceilinged establishment (a former Order of Elks building). Historical photos and information about the town of Perry adorned the walls. The menu listings included sandwichs and a variety of coffee drinks. There was something called a "Cow", in several varieties, so I definitely was curious to find out what that was. It was an ice cream and expresso drink, almost like a malt, and was very delicious. All three of us can now say we "had a Cow" in Perry, Iowa.

From there we travelled on to Osceola, to Hart's Bridal Shop. This little place was nothing fancy, but was crowded with shoppers. Many were there to look at prom dresses, and I could see why.....there was such an assortment of bright colors and unique styles there. My daughter had visited this shop a couple weeks ago, and had two wedding dresses picked out to try on again. We had to wait quite awhile for a fitting room, but it was worth it. Both dresses were lovely, but one of them definitely was The One, and so the wedding dress decision was finalized!

We went back to West Des Moines and shopped awhile at Target.....until my feet were so sore I couldn't stand it anymore. Then we drove around trying to choose a place to eat. We were in the Jordan Creek area of town where there are countless restaurants and little malls. My head was spinning. Finally we decided on a pizza place; its name was Mia Rosa's or something like that. They serve authentic Italian style pizza, with the thin, "blistered" crust, and your choice of toppings. It tasted excellent! By the time we finished eating, it was after 10 p.m., so we said our good-byes, and began our journey out of the Des Moines area. Wow, it seemed to take forever---- like trying to leave the Minneapolis area. Its a wonder we didn't get lost. We got home around 1 a.m.(actually 2 a.m. due to turning clocks ahead for daylight savings time). Ugh!

After chores Sunday morning I knew I was just too tired to get dressed up for church, so I stayed home. It was very peaceful and nice to have some time alone. I did end up turning on the TV and watched Wayne Dyer speak on PBS. As a Christian, I suppose I should criticize his message as being "new age" or something, but actually I thought what he had to say was wonderfully enlightening. One day last summer, when we were near the end of a stressful remodeling project, I was riding in the pickup with Husband, on the way to Menards. Somehow, we got into a nasty argument, and by the time we got to Menards, I knew I had to get away from him for a few minutes. I walked toward the middle of the store and ended up by a table of clearance books. Not all the books were on the subject of home improvement projects, and as I absentmindedly looked through the book stacks, I came upon one entitled There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem, by Wayne Dyer (whom I had never heard of). Printed on the back cover was the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "Lord, Let Me Be An Instrument of Thy Peace", upon which the book was based. As I flipped through the book, I felt it would be good for me to read, so I sneaked up to the checkouts and bought it and stuffed it in my purse. It contains many beautiful and practical thoughts for living a more peaceful, spiritual life. And on his TV special, Dr. Dyer talked about the "language of spirit" which speaks to us through nature and synchronicities. He talked about the importance of forgiveness and gratefulness and inspiration in our daily lives. I was glad I was home to hear it. Toward the end of the show, his daughter sang the song "Vincent", written about the artist Vincent Van Gogh, by the singer/songwriter Don McLean. He has always been one of my favorite singers and recently I had purchased a CD of his greatest hits. What I didn't know was that Don McLean had been inspired to write the song "Vincent" after reading a book about the life of Vincent Van Gogh. The song is beautiful and very meaningful.

Blessings to all! I must go vacuum ladybugs out of windowsills. They appear there in the spring once it warms up a little. They also like to congregate up in ceiling corners. The poor little things are just trying to exist, I know, and they really don't hurt anything, so I feel sort of mean when I vacuum them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

New Blogs

Well, I posted for the first time to my "Enlighten & Brighten" blog, and started another blog entitled "The Hymn Hideout". In the process I learned things about John Newton the author of "Amazing Grace", and Ina Duley Ogdon, the author of "Brighten the Corner Where You Are". Check out those two blogs.

While looking for John Newton in the World Book encyclopedias (he wasn't in there) I ended up reading about Isaac Newton. He may have never realized his own brilliance. Here is a cute and modest quote from him near the end of his life: "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

Its still quite cold outdoors, though the weather forecast predicts temperatures will reach the 40's by Friday. I'll believe it when I see it.

Husband is spreading manure out in the field today, so he goes roaring by in his orange tractor every few minutes. I had turned Miss Kitty out for a while after lunch, but I think she is scared of the noisy tractor for she quickly wanted to come back in.

Tonight at 7 p.m. there is a Lenten service at church. In years past, I used to make the effort to go to evening services during Advent and Lent, even though Husband could never go along because he milks cows until nearly 8 p.m. I used to rush through supper and bundle the kids up and off we would go to church. But, its not in me to do that anymore, as it has simply become stressful. I shouldn't feel that way, but I can't seem to help it. I do miss singing in choir, but it is just too difficult to try to make it to rehearsals which are right at evening chore time. And Husband gets grumpy when I'm gone alot at chore time. It's just not worth it.

Well, I must run along. There are chocolate chip oatmeal cookies in the oven, a huge pile of laundry to fold, and a kitchen that needs sweeping. After that, I really should get outdoors and take a nice long walk.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Lutherans and Hymns

Since my previous post, I've been pondering over many things concerning my church. As I explained, the church I attend is classified as orthodox Lutheran. Also the adjective "confessional" is used. I think that word is used because we speak one of the Creeds (Apostles, Nicene) during each Divine Service. They are printed in the Liturgy pages of our hymnal; the congregation speaks (confesses) them in unison. Maybe the word confessional also indicates a connection to the Lutheran Confessions....I'm not sure. The Lutheran Confessions, written by Martin Luther and his colleagues, are very important, as they contain the pure Lutheran doctrine, which pastors take vows to uphold. So, it does no good to attempt to present any arguments to if you read something in the Bible which you think could have a different interpretation. They interpret the Bible by way of the Lutheran Confessions. And I think also that's one reason why there's not alot of Bible study going on in orthodox Lutheran congregations. Our pastor likes to have "doctrinal studies", so people can brush up on proper Lutheran doctrine. And when I taught Sunday School, the materials suggested that people just read Luther's Catechism instead of the Bible. The Bible is too complicated, and too easy to misinterpret, I guess.

Also, the types of hymn lyrics sung are very important, for that is another form of confessing. Confessing falsehoods is not good. Hymns can easily contain false doctrine. That well-known old hymn "Amazing Grace" contains false doctrine, so I've heard. Some hymns contain too many "praise" lyrics, which falls under the heading of "theology of glory", I guess. Too much focus on the earth and humans and what they think they can do for God, and not enough focus on the Cross and what God through Christ has done for humankind.

Although I like singing the traditional Lutheran hymns, some of them can be difficult to sing musically. Some of the melodies are kind of plodding and just plain unmemorable. I can remember many of the hymns I grew up with, but most Lutheran hymns just don't stay in my head. Maybe its because I didn't learn them in childhood. "Train up a child in the way he should go......", as the Bible says. There, an important point for parents to remember.

Anyway, on that note, I think I may start another blog, one in which I'll post heretical hymns from the non-Lutheran hymnal I grew up with. They will be hymns that are uplifting for me, though maybe not teaching pure doctrine (as orthodox Lutherans would see it). As I've said before, I'm not a very good Lutheran......sometimes I wish to experience my faith, not just be told that I have it. Possibly that is a female thing, and maybe a reason why God does not want women to teach or have leadership roles in the church. Orthodox Lutheranism is very male and prides itself on eliminating feeling from faith, and that's fine. Faith should not be dependent on any type of feeling. But, I can't live in a box, or hold my breath between the times of being in a Pastor's presence for Word and Sacrament. I yearn to be encouraged and uplifted on a daily basis.

If I do start the hymn blog, the first post will be "Amazing Grace", since I had mentioned that hymn in this post. Hopefully, I can figure out what is heretical about it.

I found a book at entitled Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism. Its description is intriguing, but its $74 price tag is too high for me right now. Maybe someday I can find a used copy.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Orthodox Lutheranism

We emerged from our week of wintry weather to find this lovely, sunny Sunday. Lately, I've sort of dreaded going to church..... a of symptom of winteritis, and wishing to be a hermit. Plus, going to church means I must make that futile attempt to make my hair look presentable, and struggle with static electricity on clothing. Even after brushing them, my black slacks seemed covered with tiny white threads.

We attend a rural Lutheran church, the building itself being over 110 years old. Its steeple towers over the adjacent school and parsonage, with rows of gravestones to the rear. Actually, I'm a poor excuse for a Lutheran, having not grown up with Dr. Luther's German brand of Christianity. Often, I feel at odds with Lutheran doctrine, and, unlike lifelong Lutherans, I tend to question things. Now that we have a very orthodox pastor, I've been questioning even more and researching to try to understand what "orthodox" means in relation to Lutheranism, wishing I didn't care in the first place.

It seems to me that the orthodox pastors believe that they are imparting salvation each Sunday by the sound of their voice speaking the "Word of God". To me, it is a very mechanical form of faith, engineered by males, who are naturally mechanically-minded. Each baptized member of the congregation gets a refueling of salvation each Sunday during the "Divine Service". It's not called a worship service, because it is God serving us, not us serving Him. The Service is structured with a Liturgy, supposedly very historic. I think we are to believe that the Lutheran liturgy is God-breathed, just like the Bible, and that other denominations that don't use our God-breathed liturgy are lost. (Possibly it's an isolationist attitude held over from the days when the Germans were new immigrants to the U.S.)

True orthodox Lutherans do not consider themselves to be Protestant. That would be an insult. Protestantism has strayed from historic Christianity by emphasizing the "theology of glory" over the "theology of the Cross" serving God vs God serving man. Protestants focus on living a Christian life and growing spiritually (a.k.a. pietism), while Lutheran orthodoxy stresses sacramentalism...... the Word from the pastor's voice in your ears and the receiving of the Body/bread and Blood/wine, also necessarily accompanied by the Pastor's voice speaking the Word. Those are the two continuing necessities for Lutherans. Seeking for spiritual growth is emphasized little, if at all.

Orthodox Lutherans are very critical of what they call "decision theology".....making a decision for Christ, because it suggests man is doing something to assist in his salvation. I argue that orthodox Lutheranism also includes a sort of "decision theology". Protestantism stresses as vital the one-time decision to accept God's free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son, and then spiritual growth by studying the Bible and attending church. Orthodox Lutheranism stresses the parental decision to have their infant baptised and later the continuing decision to hear the Word and receive the Sacrament of Communion. Getting to the church building for Divine Service each Sunday requires a decision, does it not?! You decide to go to the church. Can anyone argue with that? A Lutheran's continuing salvation depends on that decision. That is my rebellious, heretical argument concerning orthodox Lutheran theology.

You may wonder, why don't I just find a different church to attend? Because Husband grew up in this church, his family having been part of it for generations. It is only a few miles from our farm, so convenience is a factor. And our children attended the church dayschool through 8th grade, giving us many ties and memories there. I guess all that outweighs my inner conflicts with the Lutheran theology.

One good thing is that our church still sings traditional hymns. I attended a Sunday service at my daughter's unorthodox Lutheran church last summer, where they had a praise band up in front leading the singing of songs which reminded me of what we sang around the campfire at church camp when I was a kid. The church service included no regular hymns. I didn't care for that at all, and I told my daughter so. She wasn't surprised.....she said, "Mom, I knew you wouldn't like it." What bothers me most is that the children there at the service may grow up with no exposure to traditional hymns.

Well, some other time I'll write more on my opinions of church and religion. Right now I need to get myself outdoors to feed calves. I'm late because I'm in a loafing mood, plus my college son phoned and talked for awhile.

Here's some not so orthodox thoughts from one of this morning's hymns, LW #413:

"Lord, all I am or have, you gave;
From stubborn ego, Lord, you save,
My selfish ways rejecting.

So let me give myself to you,
To all my fellow creatures, too,
Your grace, your love, reflecting."

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Power Restored

Hooray! Around 9 p.m. yesterday we saw a vehicle with flashing yellow lights coming up our long driveway. It was a utility crew coming to make sure our generator got turned off before they turned on the power at the corner, so none of their workers would get a jolt. Husband was very happy to finally be able to put the tractor and alternator back in the shed.

The power had been off for four and a half days. I didn't think I remembered that happening before in my lifetime, but then a memory came to mind. When I was junior in high school and sewing a dress for prom, our power went out for several days. My parents took our sewing machine to my grandmother's house in town, and I stayed there and finished my dress. I wonder if anyone sews their own prom dresses anymore? I made alot of my clothes back then, dresses, skirts, and tops. Lots of my friends sewed their clothes, too. It was a popular trend then.

My two high-schoolers ended up staying home today as school was cancelled due to another storm moving in. But, it didn't amount to much of anything in this area. Just a little rain in the morning and some snow this afternoon. The brunt of the storm is hitting western Iowa, according to the weather reports. Our power went out for a couple hours at midday, then came back on, thankfully.

The other day when that utility pickup that showed up here ended up being from Akron, Ohio, I was tickled. Akron, Ohio, figures into my favorite movie, "Harvey". The psychiatrist, when he finds out that Harvey the pooka can make wishes come true, states that his wish would be to go to Akron, of all places. Evidently he had happy memories of that city. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the orderly, Mr. Wilson, experiences a synchronicity when he looks up the word "pooka" in the dictionary. Anyway, I considered it a minor synchronicity for me when the utility truck turned out to be from Akron!

Here's wishing electricity restored to everyone!